Follow the Money: August 13,1862

One hundred and fifty years ago today, the 1862 Dakota annuity payment was a month overdue. Why?

This post only hints at the reasons, but supplies the sequence of what happened behind the scenes.

After the Treaties of 1851 were proclaimed ratified in 1853, Minnesota’s Upper and Lower Dakota bands had received annuity payments: installments of the interest on the invested proceeds from their cessions of land to the Federal Government.

As the end of fiscal 1862 approached, the Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) knew that the balance in the Sioux Agency annuity accounts was short. So they borrowed from 1863 funds, which were not available until the beginning of Fiscal 1863: July 1, 1862. But Congress did not pass the 1863 appropriations bill until July 5th.

On July 12, 1862 Superintendent of Indian Affairs Clark Thompson, at his office in St. Paul, was surprised by a pair of telegrams from Washington D.C. informing him that the 1863 appropriation had not yet been credited by the Treasury to the Interior Department but would be sent “next week.”

Out at Yellow Medicine, Thomas J. Galbraith, the Sioux Agent responsible for disbursing the delayed payment, was two days beyond reach of the telegraph. On July 19, 1862  Galbraith appraised Thompson on the effects of the delay: “Indians have been in for a week past…. are getting clamorous for food have as yet given them none…. Hurry Up. Come right up here and make this payment at once. We have had neither panic nor alarm & will not have if you get on with their money soon.”

Back in Washington, on July 22, the OIA pressed the Treasury to issue the Sioux annuity warrant. July 29, the Treasury replied, asking the OIA again: with gold in such short supply, couldn’t the Sioux warrant be issued in bills?

In reply, on August 2, 1862 the OIA wrote this letter insisting the annuity portion of the warrant had to be issued in gold.

Finally, the Treasury agreed. One hundred and fifty years ago today, on August 13, 1862, Charles Mix reported the annuity gold was finally on its way to Minnesota:

Note: After the Dakota War, Mix edited this letter for inclusion as exhibit No.3 in the Secretary of Indian Affairs Annual Report for 1862. Mix’s editing on the holograph appear in black italics within the original text in blue below.

Charles E. Mix to William P. Dole August 13, 1862 NARA RG 75, Special File 228.

Department of the Interior

Office of Indian Affairs

August 13, 1862


I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th inst. upon the importance of having the question of paying the Sioux in Gold decided immediately, and in reply have to state, that on the 8th inst. a telegraphic message was addressed to you at Beloit, informing you that Secretary Chase had agreed to order Mr. Cisco to pay the $71,000 in coin, and a telegraphic message was sent to you yesterday at St. Paul stating that Secretary Chase had ordered Mr. Cisco to pay coin.

Immediately upon obtaining the promise of the Hon. Secretary of the Treasury to

omit all in this parenthesis

that effect {which was only obtained after addressing several communications to him and making a personal application accompanied by letter and telegraphic message of the importance of paying the Sioux in Gold, and also by a letter by the acting Secretary of the Interior and that after a clerk in this office had made several personal visits to the Treasury Department to get an answer to the communication from the Interior Department as to whether the Gold would be furnished} a letter was addressed to Mr. Cisco requesting him on the receipt of the order from the Secretary of the Treasury authorizing him to pay Gold to Supt. Thompson to send the same by express at once to St. Paul, and a letter was received from him in reply yesterday stating that he would comply with the request of this office immediately after receiving the order from the Treasury. And as Mr. Spinner has informed this office that the draft was sent on Saturday with the requisite order, there is no doubt but that the Gold is at this time on the way to St. Paul by Express.

Every effort was made that could be thought of to get the Gold for the object desired and the efforts in the end appear from present appearances to have been successful.

I have the honor to be

Very Respectfully

Your obt. Servt.

Charles E. Mix, Acting Comm

Hon. Wm P. Dole

Comr. Indian Affairs

St. Paul, Minnesota

P.S. Since the foregoing was prepared I have received information from Mr. Cisco that he had supplied the coin on the 11th instant.

#(insert what is marked below)

C. E. Mix

Acting Commr.

[#] I am hurrying the remittance for Thompson’s superintendency as fast as possible. The treasury warrant for present appropriations arrived here yesterday.

This entry was posted in Commemorating Controversy, Primary Sources. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Follow the Money: August 13,1862

  1. Pingback: Follow the Money: August 14, 1862 | A Thrilling Narrative of Indian Captivity: Dispatches from the Dakota War of 1862

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